Former Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett used his keynote speech at the 2003 Intel Developer Forum to show the company's vision of what future laptops will look like.

Called Newport, the notebook design had some cool features, including a small, secondary display on the outside of the case that let users scan their emails, access their calendar, and check network connections. The idea was to give users access to information stored on the notebook while the case was closed.

Secondary displays never caught on with laptop makers, largely because of the added software work required to support the interface. But that could be set to change with the introduction of Vista, the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"Microsoft, with Vista, has added some advanced capabilities that support multiple displays," said Keith Kressin, Intel's director of mobile platforms marketing, at the Computex exhibition in Taipei.


Secondary displays won't become a feature on mainstream notebooks anytime soon, Kressin said. "But I think for a certain market it's very compelling," he said.

At Computex, several notebook makers revealed plans to produce computers equipped with secondary displays.

Asustek Computer and Acer will use Portal Player's Preface secondary-display module in future notebook models, the companies announced during Computex. These machines are expected to be available once Vista ships, they said.

Away from the show floor, contract manufacturer Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) showed a Preface-equipped laptop to gauge customer interest in secondary displays. The response has been encouraging, said Bryan Chang, a company sales executive. "They find it very interesting," he said.

The Preface module shown by ECS was equipped with a 2-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen and 1G byte of flash memory. The module's memory can store music files, email messages and calendar entries, among other types of information that can be accessed without having to power up the laptop.

Computex runs through June 10.